In Growing up Dead: the Hallucinated Confessions of a Teenage Deadhead, Peter Conners tells the story of coming of age in the suburbs in the 1980s and discovering the music of the Grateful Dead. Starting in high school, Conners followed the Dead, learned to dance without inhibition, and discovered the joys of living a creative life through making music and writing. Those first Dead shows started a lifelong romance that has permeated every aspect of Conners’ life.
I love Growing up Dead. Not just because Conners and I are the same age (we were born within two weeks of each other), and not because we went to some of the same Dead shows (most notably Silver Stadium June 30, 1988 which gets a chapter in the book). I love Growing up Dead because it is beautifully written — Conners has a poet’s grace, a seeker’s heart, and a musician’s ear.
Maybe, too, I’ve been carrying this book around with me so much lately because Conners answers the question a lot of Deadheads, myself included, have struggled to answer over the years – why the Grateful Dead?